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John's Story

It’s so hard when you lose someone close to you and Jane was just 53 when she died. The counselling service provided by the Hospice has armed me with many ways of coming to terms with my feelings.

Jane had been treated for breast cancer over a ten year period and she was referred to Hospice in the Weald when she was diagnosed with aggressive endometrial cancer. At first, we both had counselling separately. I knew that there was a high likelihood she was going to die of the disease, I just didn’t know how soon, and I really wanted to make the best of the time we had left together.  I found it difficult to talk to Jane about my innermost fears for the future but I knew I needed to speak to someone.

First of all, I met a counsellor who talked to me about my situation and what I hoped to get out of counselling so I could be matched up with the most suitable counsellor. She was so good to talk to that I was almost hoping it would be her and I was quite surprised when I actually met the person proposed who was nothing like what I expected. My counsellor and I are, in fact, very different people – but she has turned out to be the perfect fit.

People might have the idea that a counsellor is just there to comfort you but that’s not entirely true. My counsellor is not afraid to ask those difficult questions that make me think about what I am feeling and why. It’s not about making you feel instantly better, it’s about the journey of coming to terms with how you are feeling and becoming more self-aware.

John and Jane

A few months before she died, Jane and I decided to have joint counselling. We both felt it was important to sort out a few things in our relationship and the few sessions we had were really helpful. Since Jane’s death, I have continued with the counselling. The grief of losing a life partner is so hard to deal with and to have someone to share those confused feelings with is invaluable.

Counselling has been great for me, I think of it as an MOT for my head. You can talk openly about things in a way you can’t with your friends or family. I have not been able to bring myself to sort out Jane’s things or sell her car and in counselling, I found it easy to talk about that without being judged.

To be honest I often find myself in tears and people can feel uncomfortable seeing a grown man cry but a counsellor can handle it. I find it’s a safe place in which I can let go without trying to be strong and there’s not many places you can make yourself so vulnerable, particularly if you are ‘bloke’. Counselling has been that place for me.

After I see my counsellor, if I can I like to go off somewhere quiet, get a coffee and think about what we have discussed. To have someone say that the mixed up emotions you are feeling are normal and there is no right or wrong way to handle them is very uplifting. Personally I don’t think it’s so much about getting over my loss, I think the pain will always be there, but I hope that I’ll find a way of accommodating it which allows me to carry on and live the best life I can. I’m on a journey, it’s not straightforward, and, for me, counselling has been an invaluable way of keeping me moving.  I would wholeheartedly recommend it to others.”